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  • Tides, and: Bully, and: Flight Distance
  • Liz Ahl (bio)


Lubec Channel, Maine

The tide goes out-a naked world's revealedbetween the hem of kelp and water's edge.The tide comes in and everything's concealed.

The moon and earth take turns; both seize then yieldthen seize again the waters. Page by page,the tide goes out. A naked world's revealed:

the broken shells, a jellyfish congealedon salt-worn stones, the blue-black mussel beds.The tide comes in and everything's concealed

beneath the channel currents. Gray and tealand indigo in ribbons swirl and wed.The tide goes out-a naked world's revealed

in dripping increments. Gulls pluck a mealfrom rocks and pools that skirt West Quoddy Head.The tide comes in and everything's concealed

again. The cycle turns its daily wheel,and waters never tire of being led.The tide goes out-a naked world's revealed;the tide comes in and everything's concealed. [End Page 112]


The eagle is perched on his rockat water's edge for mere moments beforethe crows come. Black-jacketed bad boys,they seem sharpened by the blade-bright lightof sunrise painting the channel's high tide in dazzle.

Compared to the crows, the eagle's gigantic,but when they start attacking, it's confirmed:he's a juvenile-mottled, scruffy-feathered,looking poor and put-upon by the sleek crowswho dive-bomb him, all angle.

The eagle reminds me of a giant boy,six foot seventh-grader, one so accustomedto abuse, fat and shabbily dressed, he has forgottenor not yet realized his sheer size,his talons, his raptor's beak.

He could tear a crow in half, but instead ducks away,tries to make himself smaller as the crows aim themselvesat him in calculated swoops. He stands his groundfor several minutes but is finally driven from the rockand chased south along the kelp-lipped cobble beach.

I'm the stupid human, the one aiming two barrels of binocularfrom the window, framing a world with ideas about injustice,wanting reasons, taming the wild by twisting its arm into story,tightening the vise of narrative, birthing the big, sad boy,muscle-bound in metaphor.

We all know whose beach this really is. [End Page 113]

Flight Distance

the amount of personal space a creature needs before feeling threatened

The juncos, sooty coal against the snow,scatter like thrown stoneswhen I move past the window.

I've stepped into a circlewhere none may trespass; I've trippedthe silent alarm. Their tiny hollow bonesare jazzed into flight by my shadow,my heavy footfall, my prowler's greedy eye.

The chickadees stay, startled only brieflyby the juncos' explosive departure;but a pair of cardinals one tree overmakes for the hills in a flutter of smoke and fire.

You'd thinkthe flamboyant jays would be brave,but they flee, screeching.

I aim for stillness where I stand,the way a creature sometimes freezesin place, willing invisibility.

The wide-eyed titmouse alightson the rim of the feeder.I'm locked in place.

A gang of tarnished goldfinches.

I barely breathe-draft nudging the drapes.

A nuthatch. Two juncos.

I'm gone. [End Page 114]

Liz Ahl

Liz Ahl's poems have appeared in Isotope, Crab Orchard Review, the Formalist, the Women's Review of Books, and other journals and anthologies. She lives in New Hampshire where she teaches poetry writing, women's studies, and literature at Plymouth State University.



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